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The PLA Beyond Asia: China’s Growing Military Presence in the Red Sea Region

By Joel Wuthnow Strategic Forum 303

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Strategic Forum 303
The PLA Beyond Asia: China’s Growing Military Presence in the Red Sea Region
Strategic Forum 303
Photo By: NDU Press
VIRIN: 200122-D-BD104-002

Key Points 

  • China has gradually expanded its military footprint in the Red Sea region, an area of critical importance for global maritime commerce and energy production. Key aspects include a People’s Liberation Army role in United Nations peacekeeping, anti-piracy patrols, and a new base in Djibouti.

  • China’s military presence—its largest outside the Indo-Pacific—supports Beijing’s diplomatic relations in the region, contributes to China’s maritime security interests, and provides useful lessons in building an expeditionary capability.

  • U.S. officials need to address operational safety and counterintelligence issues and determine whether China’s presence—which also includes military diplomacy and arms sales— is eroding traditional U.S. advantages as a security partner.

  • Opportunities for military cooperation should be explored in areas where U.S. and Chinese interests align, such as disaster management and maritime safety.

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